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The Top 10 Games that Made the 90s

It’s crazy to think how gaming has evolved so much in the past two decades. Graphics have become so realistic, in-game AI has become more complex and adaptive, and people can play with each other across the globe.


However, there are those games that have stood the test of time, and those that influenced the games of today for their innovation. Here are 10 games that I personally believe to have defined that decade.


Street Fighter II

Despite being the second in the series, this was the game that birthed the fighting genre. It had eight warriors from all over the globe to choose from, each one possessing different move-sets with their own strengths and weaknesses making for unique and balanced match-ups.


street fighter 2

It's bonus stage promotes random acts of vandalism 


Its defining feature was the combo system that allowed players to string consecutive attacks, which would become the basis for all fighting games in the future.


Super Mario 64

With years of amazing success that started with the saving of the video game industry, the Super Mario Bros. leap from 2D to 3D was met with great anticipation. It went beyond expectations, unleashing the fat mustachioed plumber into a world of seemingly infinite possibilities.


super mario 64

I'm surprised that Mario isn't a convicted stalker in the Mushroom Kingdom


The free-roaming camera and the mission-based level system established in Super Mario 64 would become a standard in the newfound 3D platforming genre, and its overall design would become an inspiration for the entire industry.


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

When it comes to debating which is the “best game ever”, OoT is always in the argument. As the first 3D Zelda game, it introduced Z-targeting and context-sensitive buttons that have become staples in multiple genres. It also used the complex concept of time travel as a perfect game mechanic, giving familiar levels a whole new perspective. 


ocarina of time

The only game where you can feel melancholic by playing an obscure instrument


Coupled with sprawling dungeons, clever puzzles, atmospheric music, and immersive visuals, it made for the perfect action adventure game that is truly timeless.


Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat captured the essence of the extreme and rebellious attitude of the 90’s. It used realistic models for its characters, and every powerful strike led to copious amounts of blood squirting from their bodies.



mortal kombat

Comes with the WWF slogan "Kids, don't try this at home."


Lastly, players could also perform a Fatality to their beaten opponents, a brutal special move that destroyed the character resulting in unprecedented gore. Every mom hated it, and every kid loved it.


Resident Evil

Although it didn’t pioneer the survival horror genre, it nevertheless became the launching point for its exhilarating fear-inducing gameplay and plot. Stuck in a mansion filled with the living dead and other mutated monstrosities, the player only had to deal with limited ammo, limited items, limited saves, and even a limited control and camera scheme. 


resident evil

It came with a fairly... interesting... intro


This combination of restrictions squeezed out tension in every hallway and in every room, leaving the player feeling absolutely vulnerable despite being a special operations soldier.


Mega Man III

Like Super Mario World, the third game in the Mega Man series understood what made its predecessors so good, while also building upon that solid foundation. Mega Man III brought the thrill of action platforming into the ‘90s with more tricky levels to traverse and more awesome Robot Masters to challenge the player’s skill.


megaman 3

... Dat Face ...


It finally let the titular hero slide to quickly dodge attacks and get into tight spaces, and it gave him a plucky robot dog sidekick in Rush for added mobility.



“Click-click-click” went millions of PC gamers’ mice in 1997 when Diablo invaded the realm of video games. It combined the hardcore aspect of traditional RPGs, such as building up a character and handling its skills and equipment and the random element of the rogue-like in real-time combat, making for strategic yet exciting gameplay.



Wonder how the protagonist can carry all these and still fight 


By thrusting players into a gothic dungeon underworld where they could team up to battle the forces of evil over and over, it created an addiction that lives to this day in the latest installment Diablo 3.


Final Fantasy VII

The epic quest of troubled SOLDIER Cloud Strife and his ragtag band of misfits to save the world from the silver-haired psychopath Sephiroth was an experience that shaped millions of young gamers’ lives. It took them from the cyberpunk slums of Midgar to the skies of Gaia, foiling the plots of the evil Shinra, Inc. and battling monsters that heralded the planet’s extinction along the way.



This led to a population boom of screaming fan girls

Because of its jaw-dropping scope and presentation, it singlehandedly propelled the JRPG to the top of the gaming stratosphere.


Metal Gear Solid

Before Hideo Kojima showed the world his brainchild of action espionage, video games were black and white affairs that had the player fighting bad guys and saving princesses. Metal Gear Solid, with its innovative brand of stealth gameplay and complex narrative of political intrigue, showed that video games can be more than just mediums for simple escapism.


metal gear solid

Yay for straightforward guards!


Using cinematic techniques to portray the hidden harsh realities of military conspiracies, it was revolutionary in its ambition and accomplishments.



Blizzard Entertainment took its winning formula from the Warcraft series, and applied it to a futuristic sci-fi setting for even bigger success. The three unique races offered totally different experiences with their various specialized units that favored multiple strategies.



Wonder who designed the Protoss to look like a Muppet on Brood War?


By striking a perfect balance between the Terrans, Zerg, and the Protoss, and setting up matches through the intuitive Battle.net system, players from all over the world enjoyed competitive matches against each other. To this day, skirmishes still break open online in the battle for space supremacy.


Do you think there are there other ‘90s games that should have made this list? Let us know in the comments section below!


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  •  The Top 10 Games that Made the 90s